The AMA Pro Motocross Championship came to an exciting close for Team Honda HRC at Indiana’s Ironman MX, as Ken Roczen rode to another strong second-place finish with 3-2 marks and was named 2018 Sportsman of the Year. Over the course of his comeback season, Roczen earned six podium finishes, including two moto victories, as well as four additional top-five results, putting him third in the final points standings.
When the gate fell for moto one, Roczen got off to a seventh-place start, quickly moving into sixth on the first lap. He advanced one more spot and was right on the rear wheel of third when he fell back after removing his goggles; a few laps later, the German made a quick pit stop in the mechanics’ area for a replacement set. With clear vision and 14 minutes remaining, Roczen mounted a charge for fourth, making the pass on lap seven. He continued his push, moving into the final podium position before the checkered flag. In the final moto of the year, Roczen rocketed his CRF450R down the sludge-covered start straight, coming around the first turn in third, then moved into second a few turns later. For the entire 30-minute-plus-two-lap race, he played cat-and-mouse with the leader but was never able to close in enough to make a pass, ultimately crossing the finish line in second.
- After Cole Seely spent nearly six months recuperating from injuries sustained at the Tampa Supercross, Team Honda HRC was excited to have the Californian return to riding on August 20, laying down laps at Milestone MX Park. “It was great to be out at the track with Cole on Monday,” said team manager Erik Kehoe. “It was a very mellow day but he looked good, throwing whips and having some fun. I’m sure he was probably a little sore the next day because he did multiple motos, but it was great to have him back on the bike.”
- Due to heavy, race-morning rains that left the Ironman track covered in thick mud, there was only one qualifying practice period, when Roczen was fourth-fastest with a 2’45.260″ lap time.
- Team Honda HRC rider Toshiki Tomita put in an impressive effort aboard his CRF450R at Ironman, posting 17-12 moto finishes for 13th overall. Tomita will return home to Japan on Tuesday, where he will spend the next few weeks preparing for the Motocross of Nations. There, he will represent his country alongside fellow Honda racer Taiki Koga. “I don’t really like mud but I was actually excited when it started to rain,” Tomita said. “I fell twice in the first moto but was feeling good in the second moto. I finished the season 14th overall, an improvement from last year. Thank you to everyone who supported me. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from my teammate Ken [Roczen]. I had an amazing summer.”
- After all the action concluded, Roczen and his crew joined the rest of the riders and teams for an end-of-season BBQ and awards banquet hosted by MX Sports. During the presentation, Roczen was awarded 2018 Sportsman of the Year honors for his incredible comeback performance during his first full season since 2016. He was also pleased to receive the trophy for third overall in the championship, which had been his goal.
- The season came to a remarkable close for the GEICO Honda 250 squad, with RJ Hampshire and Chase Sexton both landing on the podium for the second consecutive week, securing second and third overall, respectively. Hampshire concluded the championship in fourth, while Sexton finished sixth in his first full season.
- Now that the season is over, Roczen will take two weeks off to rest and recover before he and his team return to testing for the Motocross of Nations, then begin switching back to Supercross mode.
“This season was tough, but great. Nobody really sees the struggle during the week. To throw myself into this season with very little track time or testing and not even be sure I could really race, to how things progressed, especially the second half of the season, was great. I finished on the podium a bunch and got third overall in the championship, which was the goal coming into this weekend. It’s really good to finish this season healthy and strong, which is what the plan was for this year, and to get some racing under my belt.”
Erik Kehoe: Team Manager
“This whole season was a confidence builder for next year. Remembering back to where Ken started this season at Hangtown, to where we’re at now is huge, making this season a complete success and definitely something we can build on for 2019. We learned a lot, which is always the main goal. Ken is such a fierce competitor that he wants to win all the time, but sometimes it takes being smart, which I think is the biggest takeaway. He’s gained so much patience in his riding.”
Oscar Wirdeman: Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Today was kind of brutal with the weather and track conditions but Ken did a great job overcoming that and finished the season with another podium and third in the championship. It was an awesome season overall; we made progress with the bike and after the last two years, having Ken finish the whole season healthy was huge. I’m so proud of him and his determination. Ken’s going to take a couple weeks off before we start hitting the testing hard to start preparing for 2019.”
1) Justin Barcia (1-1)
2) Ken Roczen (3-2)
3) Marvin Musquin (4-3)
4) Eli Tomac (2-9)
5) Cooper Webb (9-4)
6) Tyler Medaglia (7-6)
7) Phillip Nicoletti (6-7)
8) Chad Reed (5-8)
9) Valentin Teillet (8-10)
10) Blake Baggett (16-5)
450MX Championship Points (after 12 of 12 rounds)
1) Eli Tomac 527
2) Marvin Musquin 511
3) Ken Roczen 445
4) Justin Barcia 444
5) Blake Baggett 391
6) Phil Nicoletti 311
7) Benny Bloss 298
8) Weston Peick 291
9) Cooper Webb 186
10) Kyle Cunningham 169